Thursday, February 27, 2020

Book Review: Sparrow, by Mary Cecilia Jackson

Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson book cover and review
Watching an extremely gifted, hard-working, driven teen girl fall into the grips of a controlling, anger-filled boy made me feel helpless and frustrated.

Savannah--Sparrow to her friends--narrates the story. She can't believe it when handsome, popular, well-off Tristan begins to have feelings for her. He is so kind and gives her gifts and wants to be with Sparrow all of the time.

Sparrow's best friend and dance partner, Lucas, has never liked Tristan. He's been bullied by Tristan since childhood, and Lucas does not believe that Tristan has changed, no matter what Sparrow says. Delaney, Sparrow's best friend, and Lucas watch Sparrow become more and more frightened of her supposed peach of a boyfriend as he controls her every move. Tristan becomes very jealous of Lucas, which makes things even more difficult. Delaney and Lucas repeatedly try desperately to help Sparrow see what Tristan has become. She refuses to acknowledge anything and sticks up for Tristan over and over. Eventually, after Sparrow suggests some time apart, Tristan blows up and beats Sparrow until she is almost dead.

This happens at about the halfway point, and the rest of the story is about Sparrow's difficult path back from potentially losing herself. She must confront not only her relationship with Tristan but other secrets about her childhood relationship with her mother, who died when Sparrow was young. Her friends and family all feel helpless as well as guilty. Her father never allowed her to talk about her mother and the abuse Sparrow suffered. Lucas feels responsible and can't hold his temper. He almost loses everything he has worked for. 

After slogging through the torturous first half of the story--part of it being described by both Sparrow and Lucas--they slowly and painfully begin to heal. Thankfully her family is supportive, and Sparrow builds a therapeutic relationship with a counselor. Lucas spends time away with his grandmother. Their eventual recovery isn't portrayed as being easy or complete. One thing that I must caution--I wouldn't want teens to think that this type of toxic relationship only happens to girls (or boys) who are abused as children. That is what happens in Sparrow's case, but I'm sure these abusive relationships happen to all kinds of "normal" teens as well. And sadly to plenty of adults.

I was put off when the POV first switched to Lucas, and he begins to relate the same events as Sparrow had. I really don't like dual POVs that repeat the same events. I feel like I can imagine the other character's perspective well enough without reading a retelling of the same story. But, this only happened the first time. After that, the switches in POVs continued the story, rather than repeating the same episodes.

Teens who are attracted to edgy, dramatic, issues books will enjoy this one. While somewhat disturbing, it may be enlightening. Give this to your Speak and Dreamland fans. I think Sparrow is going to be popular.

Published by Tor Teen, Marcy 17 2020
ARC obtained from School Library Connection
364 pages

Rating: 4/5





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1 comment:

  1. I'll bet this one is popular with teens; it seems the more realistically tortuous the better.

    ReplyDelete

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